Category Archives: All the Cool Kids Are Feminists

It’s Galentine’s Day and I’m a Feminist So Let’s Talk About Feminism

Today is Galentine’s Day.

You’ve never heard of it?

I’ll let Leslie Knope, my favorite character from one of my favorite shows, Parks and Recreation explain.

After all, she created it.

It’s about “ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair minus the angst, plus frittatas.”

So let’s start by celebrating Leslie, who is my hero even though she is a fictional character.

I love her because she’s smart, funny, ambitious, opinionated, tenacious and yes, just a little bit annoying in her idealism. But perhaps most importantly, I love her because she doesn’t apologize for being any of those things.

She’s a great role model for women and girls, and hell, everyone.

She’s also a proud feminist and so am I.

The fact that I identify as a “feminist” shouldn’t be a surprise. I’ve said it probably hundreds of times before and one of my blog’s categories is literally “All the Cool Kids are Feminists”. It has been a category for years.

So this isn’t a new thing for me, what is new is this feeling I’ve had lately (that I am by no means proud of) that I shouldn’t say I’m a feminist.

That I shouldn’t say it because it might offend someone, because they might not understand.

People are not liking the word “feminist” lately.

When I hear the “F word” I think of someone who advocates for the equality of all people. (With that in mind, here’s a link to a old, but good article that explains  intersectional feminism far better than I ever could.)

When other people hear the word “feminist” they seem to hear “man-haters” or “whiners” or “Trump haters” or for some reason I really don’t understand “ugly, women who don’t shave their armpits.”

I’ll talk a little about these definitions.

But first I want to be clear about where I’m coming from when I say I’m a feminist.

I think a big part of why, as a society, we seem to have a hard time relating to each other lately is that we’re not even working with the same definitions of words.

We assume we know what someone means whey they say they’re a feminist or a Republican or a Christian or a supporter of Black Lives Matter.

We see a label and ascribe a definition to it – based on what we think it means, not based on what the person we’re talking to thinks it means. We make assumptions. (And we all know what they say about assumptions.)

Basically, we’ve become big fans of oversimplification lately. (Or maybe we have always been big fans of it but I just didn’t notice until now.)

But oversimplification doesn’t work because if there is one thing people are not — it’s simple.

People are confusing. They’re complicated. They are sometimes contradictory and frequently frustrating.

And though, on the surface that may seem like a negative thing, if you look a little deeper you can see it’s actually a good thing. Because people are complicated – that means their views are complicated too. That means things aren’t always black and white. That means there is usually more agreement and overlap in ideas than we give ourselves credit for.

Lately, it seems like if you say you’re a supporter of one thing, people automatically assume you’re against something else.

For example, if I say I’m a feminist (aka pro-women in this example) that must mean I’m against men. If I say I’m a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, that must mean I hate cops. If I say I’m not a fan of Trump that must mean I’m a whiny Hillary supporter who is just complaining because my candidate lost.

Sorry, it’s just not that simple. Life’s not that simple. People are not that simple.

Because, the thing is, I can be a feminist and love men and women. I can support Black Lives Matter while still believing that our law enforcement professionals are an incredibly important part of our society and we should value their work more. I can be a critic of Trump and Hillary.

People are complicated so we have to try harder to understand where they’re coming from and we have to try harder to communicate where we’re coming from too.

So here’s what I’m trying to say when I say I’m a feminist:

I’m saying that I believe traditional gender roles are limiting for everyone and there’s still more work to be done in terms of achieving full equality. 

Emma Watson (aka Hermione) explained the problem with traditional gender roles much more eloquently than I ever could in her speech to the United Nations in 2014. (It’s an old video and a long video, but it has an important message which I also wrote about at the time.)

She starts the speech by talking about what I’m going to talk about now – that “feminism” is not “man-hating.”

I don’t understand this misconception. If anything, I think feminism does a better job of honoring men than sexism does.

I’ll explain.

In a sexist world – things are pretty simple, by design. Men and women fit into very rigid gender roles that tell us what it is acceptable for each gender to do and be. (Also, it goes without saying, this is a very hetero-normative worldview.)

We all know these rules. We’re taught them from an early age. Men are to be smart, strong, ambitious, career-minded, brave and aggressive. Women are to be gentle, friendly, sweet, selfless, moral and focused on caring for others.

These roles or rules give both genders a raw deal. Because we’re all capable of being all of these things and we should all be free to be these things without judgement.

As a feminist, I believe that men and women are equally capable of making good decisions and treating others with kindness. That is the opposite of man-hating.

If anything, sexism hates men, or if not hates them, definitely thinks they’re dumb or less capable of basic decency than women.

Sexism operates under the idea that men’s bad behavior is something that can be explained away wholly by their gender. That’s why sayings like “Boys will be boys” are so popular. That’s why when men talk about sexual assaulting women we hear people talk about it as “locker room talk” that every man does.

Sexism teaches us that this behavior is a normal and it should be expected and tolerated because that’s just the way men are. It teaches us that men aren’t capable of being decent human beings and it’s up to women to preserve the moral integrity of society. That’s why women have to have stricter dress codes because you know how men are, always thinking with their penises.

Ummm no. Men are smarter than that. They’re better than that.

Not all men view women as solely sexual objects. Not all men sexually harass women. Not all men talk about harassing women in locker rooms. Some men just change in locker rooms and talk about normal stuff like people do, because some men are nice.

The average man is good and decent and that’s the way feminism views him.

I don’t think I’m more capable of making good choices than my male counterparts simply because I’m a woman – I think we’re equal.

That’s sort of the point.

Okay, now we’ve reached another point where I’ve seen a lot of disagreement lately particularly among women.

Please let me explain where I’m coming from.

When I say I’m a feminist, I’m not saying that I don’t think men and women are equally capable. As I’ve explained, I do.

I am not saying men and women don’t have equal opportunities. In many ways, we do. We’ve come a long way.

Yes, we have the right to vote. Yes we have the right to pursue the careers of our choosing. Yes, we even have the right to be president.

But you don’t have to stop believing in something just because you’ve achieved some of your goals.

Life is more complicated than that. Equality is more complicated than that.

And we’re not equal yet.

Despite the fact that women make up more than half of the U.S. population, women are not equally represented in politics, business or entertainment.

These three groups shape our country’s laws and provide us with the products and media that are a large part of our daily lives.

And, just math-wise, it’s clear there’s not equality here.

  • It’s 2017, our country is roughly 240 years old and we’ve never had a female president. (This isn’t a pro-Hillary thing. I’m just saying it’d be nice of we had a lady in the White House at some point.)
  • There are only 20 women in the Senate out of 100 senators.
  • Since 1917, when representative Jeannette Rankin became the first woman to serve in Congress, 325 women have served as U.S. representatives, delegates or senators. (That may seem like a lot until you remember that Congress has 535 members and it’s been 100 years since 1917). 
  • Roughly 20 Fortune 500 companies have a female CEO. Yeah, just 20.
  • Women made up 7 percent of all directors working on the 250 highest-grossing domestic movies in 2016.

There’s still work to be done. 

And that touches on another complaint I’ve seen about feminism – that women who call themselves feminists want to be handed things. That they’re lazy. That they’re whiners.

Maybe that’s what some of them are saying, but I don’t think that’s what most of them are saying and that’s certainly not the brand of feminism I support.

And, it’s not the kind Leslie Knope would support either. I don’t know Leslie, because yeah, she’s not real, but I’d imagine she’d be behind the “let’s get to work” brand of feminism.

So what does that mean?

To me, it means supporting other women (particularly politicians, if I agree with their policies). It means supporting the work of female directors and other women who make good entertainment about smart, strong, female characters. It means working with young girls to let them now that they are capable of being anything they want to be.

And it means, not tearing other women down.

Which is one of the saddest things I’ve seen come out of the recent debate about feminism.

I’ve seen women who don’t identify with the feminist ideology saying that feminists have attacked them, saying feminists have called them a disgrace to women or something similar.

That’s not what feminism is about and if people calling themselves feminists did that to you or made you feel that way, I’m sincerely sorry. But please know these people don’t represent feminism as a whole and they don’t represent me.

 

But then I’ve seen people on the other side, people who don’t identify themselves as feminists, imply that feminists are lazy, or whiners or ugly girls who are just sad they can’t get a date.

This is equally sad and it needs to stop.

The name-calling needs to stop.

Because if Mean Girls taught us anything, it’s that this type of behavior is the freaking worst.

It’s “girl on girl crime” and it doesn’t help any of us. Here’s a video of Tina Fey, I mean, Ms. Norbury, talking about it. And yeah, the video’s long but it has a good point.

We’re all better off when we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down and Galentine’s Day is a perfect time to celebrate that.

P.S. You can also celebrate but giving to some neat organizations for woman and girls.

P.P.S. I know it’s annoying that I keep plugging charities, but I don’t care because sometimes a little annoying is good for us. Leslie taught me that.

 

 

 

 

Democrat or Republican, We Can All Agree on Love Actually; Plus Some Stuff about Trump

Disclaimer

Let me get a few things out in the open, right upfront, so I can be as clear as possible.

If you voted for Donald Trump I do not think you are racist, sexist, intolerant, or ignorant. 

Regardless of who you voted for, I still respect you and like you as a human being (you know, provided I knew, liked, and respected you before November 8). Basically, wherever we were before that day, that’s where we are now. 

You have a right to vote for whomever you choose for whatever reason you choose. I do not begrudge you that choice. You know why you cast your vote, I don’t.

I hope you don’t presume to understand why I made my choice and I won’t presume to understand why you made yours. That seems like a pretty square deal for both of us. 

So, just to reiterate, my problem is not with you, the voter. I’m not trying to offend you, hurt you, disrespect you, or insult your intelligence. And if I unintentionally do, I am sincerely sorry.

I just don’t like Trump, okay?

I just don’t, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

I sincerely hope you understand that my opinion of the man is separate from my opinion of you.

Because I think we need to find a way to start talking about politics again.  We should be able to talk about it, even if, hell, maybe most especially, when we disagree.

So that’s what I’m going to do now, after this, the longest disclaimer in human history.

End of disclaimer

I resent being told to “play nice” by someone whose entire presidential campaign was built on him being anything but.

I agree with the sentiment, of course, it’s a hell of a sentiment, I just don’t think that Trump is its most credible messenger.

Because I think most of us can agree that Trump’s campaign was not based on him being nice.

Political campaigns are rarely a friendly, well-mannered exercise, and in the 2016 election season, no one comes out clean. Everybody was slinging mud. Everybody’s dirty.

It’s just, Trump’s whole campaign persona seemed to center on him being proud of that.

That was sort of the point.

Trump’s campaign painted him as a maverick; a renegade; a tough, good, ole boy who tells it like it is; as a guy who says what we’re all really thinking but are just too afraid to say.

That was the brand. That was the push. And regardless of how much truth there is behind that image, there’s no denying that that’s the image Trump projected, promoted, and rallied people behind.

But now we’re supposed to forget that? We’re supposed to pretend the president-elect is a candidate for all Americans? Huh?

I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t make sense.

This isn’t the Apprentice. Trump doesn’t get to do a mid-season rewrite and recast himself before the governmental version of sweeps-week.

That’s just not how this works.

Trump’s built his brand and frankly, I’d almost have more respect for him if he at least had the courage to own it.

I mean, I hate his brand. I hate the war on political correctness (which I’ve said before is basically just a war on being polite and decent to people). I hate his “I can say whatever I want, however I want, whenever I want without consequences” mentality. I think it’s childish, dangerous, and cruel.

But that’s part of what his campaign was based on. That’s the caricature he credited for himself.

Now, after November 8, we’re all supposed to pretend that didn’t happen.

I’m not doing that.

Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe we should all strive to talk about everything (including politics) in a respectful way (which admittedly, I’m somewhat struggling to do here – sorry), but Trump doesn’t get to tell me to do that.

Because he doesn’t do it himself.

Trump is a lot of things, but let’s get real here – one of those things is a bully. The man’s a bully.

And I get why some people may find that appealing. I can sort of see how some people may find his candidness to be a refreshing change of pace from a political system that seems so alienating, manufactured, and dishonest to so many people.

I get it guys, I swear I do.

I can even understand why some people may have liked a man who promised to shake things up, who promised things that weren’t politics as usual.

It’s just, please understand, that’s the same reason people are so afraid of him.

I think most people who were against Trump are not upset because Hillary lost.

They’re not upset just because they’re just a bunch of whiny millennials. (Which really, can we please stop painting my entire generation as a bunch of trophy-seeking babies? We do not have the market on stupid covered. Stupid has been around for a good long while.)

I think most people are upset because they honestly don’t know what this new president will do.

And that’s a new feeling. It’s not politics as usual.

But wasn’t that sort of the point?

When your brand is shaking things up and bringing change, you can’t be surprised that people are going to have a reaction to that. A strong reaction to that.

People are going to say something.

People are allowed to say something.

Yes, they should try to do it respectfully, but people get to say something.

Playing nice does not mean keeping quiet. It does not mean being obedient and falling in line. Nor should it.

Yes, we as citizens, should strive for unity, but what’s great about America is, we’re allowed our dissent too.

We’re allowed to have differences of opinion, religion, beliefs, and politics, and we’re allowed to talk about it.

That’s not disloyalty. That’s not anti-American. That’s not whining.  That’s not unfair.

That’s just exercising our first amendment rights which is about as American as you can get.

(Though, obviously, because it needs to be mentioned, violence, vandalism, and burning the American flag aren’t okay. I would never think they were. That should be obvious. Just as it’s obvious to me that I shouldn’t paint all Trump supporters with the same brush as the worst of the Trump supporters, I’d ask you to please do the same for the left.)

But in general, when it comes to political discourse, Trump built part of his campaign on telling it like it is. He should be able to understand it and appreciate it when his citizens do the same.

Or to put it in school-yard terms, “You shouldn’t dish it out if you can’t take it.”

But that’s the thing with bullies, they so rarely know how to deal with that part of the conversation.

Which is why it’s so important for us to have that part of the conversation – because the bully needs to hear it.

Because maybe now more than ever in my lifetime, certain groups of people are going to have to try harder to be heard.

Though they should try to be respectful, they’re also going to have to be louder, more confrontational, and a whole hell of a lot stronger than before.

Because if there’s one thing I learned from Love Actually (okay, there’s a lot of things I learned from Love Actually, but this one may be the best one) it’s that bullies only respond to strength.

Hugh Grant’s prime minister taught us that.

He also gave us that really kick-ass speech about how great Britain is, which is completely unrelated to this discussion, but I think is worth the watch anyway.

But, the point is, to slightly paraphrase Hugh Grant’s prime minister: “Since bullies only respond to strength, from now onward, (we) will be prepared to be much stronger and the president(elect) should be prepared for that.”

Because being able to disagree with the government, and voice that disagreement, is an incredibly important part of being an American.

It’s the very thing that makes this country great.

That’s something we all should be able to agree on.

That, and that Love Actually is the funny yet surprisingly moving holiday classic we should all be watching right now.

Plus it has this scene of Hugh Grant dancing which is something we can all get behind.

Unity ya’ll.

Prove We’re Better Than the Worst of His Words

It’s no secret – I’m no fan of Donald Trump, our very-recently-announced president-elect.

I don’t agree with his policies and I think he is temperamentally-unsuited to be president of the United States.

But, I have been quite literally out-voted so it’s time to move on. Donald Trump is going to be our next president whether I like it or not.

It’s an understatement to say I’m disappointed. I’m more than that – I’m sad and frightened for our country. Trump has endorsed and celebrated so many things I disagree with, so many things that fly in the face of everything I believe makes this country great.

He has deliberately and repeatedly promoted divisiveness and an “us versus them” mentality that has made large swathes of the population, his future populace, feel unrepresented, and worst of all, unwelcome.

That’s not okay.

Now, let me be very clear here – I do not think that everyone who voted for Trump is racist, xenophobic and misogynistic. For me to label an entire group of people based on one choice is unfair and, frankly, the same thing I’m angry at Trump for doing, so I won’t do it here.

Besides, I’m sure several people I know and even love voted for Trump and I’m sure they had their reasons. They have their right to vote for whomever they choose for whatever reason they choose. That’s the beauty of being American.

It’s hard to see that beauty now though in what has been, let’s face it, a pretty gross last couple of months. We’ve been divided and angry and overwhelmed by negativity.

And now that the election is over, we can choose to act differently – regardless of who we voted for tonight.

We can choose to spread kindness and inclusiveness. We can choose to be better.

We can start now by reaching out to the same groups that were marginalized and insulted in this ugly campaign season.

We can let them know they’re not alone, that we support them, that, hell, there’s not even a “them”, there’s just an “us.” That we’re in this thing together.

Because the thing is, I don’t think we all agree with the nastier things Trump said. Heck, I don’t think even all of the people who voted for Trump agreed with all the things he said.

And now is our chance to prove it.

And we don’t need to do the stereotypical millennial thing where we blog about it (I recognize and appreciate the irony), tweet about it or just generally whine about it on social media.

We need to put our time and our money where our angry, post-election tweets are. We need to actually do something.

So today, take a moment to give  back to your fellow citizens who were most negatively affected by this election cycle.

Below is a list of state-wide and national organizations that support and/or empower refugees, Latinos, African Americans, the LGBTQ community, girls, sexual assault survivors, and interfaith organizations that prove that,  yes, people from all religious backgrounds really can get along.

No matter who our president is, we can choose to make our country a better place each and every day.

It starts now and it starts with us.

Yes, I’m aware that was corny as hell but if we can’t use corny as hell at a moment like this, when can we, eh?

Local and National Service Organizations to Check Out and Support

P.S. Just because I need a bit of encouragement and comic relief right now, here’s a little visual encouragement from Leslie Knope my favorite fictional politician (who I not-so-secretly) wish was real.

leslie-knpe

We got this guys, we’re what Leslie would describe as a bunch of “beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful muskox”- es? or oxen? basically whatever the hell the plural of muskox is, probably, just muskox. That’s what we are.

Trump Probably Can Say It, But He Shouldn’t

Donald Trump makes a lot of – let’s call them, unique – comments and he’s been making some real doozies recently.

Many of those comments have irritated me.I wanted to use the word offended there but I feel like the word offended  has been misappropriated by Trump to imply that everyone who uses that word is somehow infantile and overly-sensitive. So instead, I’ll phrase my dislike of Trump’s rhetoric a different way, a way Trump may respond to more favorably- I’ll get angry.

Trump pisses me off.

Not surprisingly, a lot of people get pissed off by Trump. That’s kind of the point – he makes his little, noxious comments to get a rise out of people, to get attention.

And I’ve got to hand it to him – it works. I’m talking about him right now and I kind of hate myself for it.

But I’m writing about him now not because I think he’s important,but rather, because I think freedom of speech is.

I’ve heard several Trump supporters make assumptions about Trump opponents. For the most part, people who voice opposition to Trump are accused of being wimps who are obsessed with being politically correct. Worst of all though, I’ve heard many Trump detractors called enemies of the first amendment or free speech.

That’s where I get confused.

I am angered by a lot of what Trump says. I don’t think that makes me a wimp (other things do, sure, but not this.). On the contrary, I think you could argue that calling out sexist bullshit like this, simply means I have respect for myself and other women and demand that my potential president does too.That’s not being wimpy that’s sticking up for yourself, which is sort of the opposite of what wimps do.

I don’t think I’m obsessed with being politically correct. But even if I was, I wouldn’t care, because, for the most part, I think “politically correct” is just code for “trying to be polite and treat people of different opinions with respect.” So I do prefer to be politically correct, but I don’t think that means I’m emotionally fragile or lack maturity or mental toughness. It just means I expect people -particularly my elected officials – to be diplomatic and respectful, and failing that, at least try not to be a jerk. But this is a rant for another day, and I already did it another day when I wrote a whole blog about it.

And I most certainly don’t think my anti-Trump sentiments have any bearing on how I feel about the first amendment. I was a journalism major for God’s sake, and even if my most controversial story was just about the sale of concrete to some small town city commission, I still love the first amendment with all the fervor required from journalism majors everywhere. Trust me, that’s a lot of fervor because most reporters aren’t in it for the money, because they’re not going to make much. I know that from experience.

In short, I have mad, crazy love for the first amendment.

That’s why I get so angry when people who speak out against Trump’s comments are accused of being against the freedom of speech as a whole.

That may be true for some people, but that isn’t true for me.

And I’ll prove it to you – right now I’m using my own first amendment rights to voice my opinions on Trump.

Because that’s the thing with freedom of speech. It goes both ways. It means people like Trump can say purposely upsetting things to get a rise out of people. But then the people he purposely upset have a chance to talk back.

It’s a give and take.

You have freedom of speech but not freedom from the consequences of that speech. That means Trump can get by with saying almost anything he wants, but he has to live with the consequences of that speech – namely a bunch of people talking back to him in a pissed off manner.

Each side of the argument is using its freedom of speech to engage in this dialogue. So to say that one side is unequivocally against the freedom of speech just as it is exercising that right, doesn’t make sense.

 

For the most part, I don’t think people who are against Trump are upset because Trump has the right to say the things he says – they’re just upset about the specific things he says.

Let’s break it down another way. This is an example. It’s purely hypothetical. Say I disagree with one practice of a particular religion – for instance, I think it’s strange that Hypothetical Religion A tells practitioners to yodel and wear silly hats on Mondays. I can disagree with the practice of yodeling and wearing silly hats on Mondays but that doesn’t mean I’m against the free exercise of religion. It just means I dislike yodeling and silly hats.

It’s the same with the freedom of speech and Trump’s comments.  I hate the comments, not Trump’s right to make them.

 

Now, there has been some talk about whether or not some of Trump’s speech constitutes as hate speech, etc. and whether it should have any legal ramifications. I’m not getting into that here because I’m not a lawyer specializing in this sort of thing , so I’m just going to move on.

For me, the issue of whether Trump has the right to say the things he does isn’t even my biggest concern. My biggest concern is if he should.

It’s obvious Trump can say the things he has been saying- because he’s doing just that. I just don’t think he should  be saying these things.

I firmly believe that people should have the right to express their thoughts, feelings and opinions, even if these thoughts, feelings and opinions rub others the wrong way.

 

A president, a  presidential contender like Trump and nobodies like me have the freedom to say just about anything we want.

For that reason, we can say some really terrible things.

But we should all try to say something better.

Particularly Trump.

When She Says “I’m Fine”, She’s Fine and Some Stuff About The Golden Girls

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (because I love to repeat myself), I love The Golden Girls.

I don’t care that the show premiered a year before I was even born and that the characters are still about twice my age. I don’t care that, at face value, it doesn’t seem like I should be able to relate to a group of over-50, widowed and divorced women sharing a house in Miami.

Not only do I relate to them, I freaking love them (you know, as much as it’s normal to love fictional characters). But just like everyone I love (whether they are fictional characters or real people IRL) sometimes they annoy the heck out of me.

(For instance, I just annoyed the heck out of myself by saying IRL in the last sentence instead of “in real life”like I was some kind of jerkface who doesn’t have time to type real words any more.)

See nobody’s perfect. Not even the golden girls are. Not even the most self-proclaimed perfect golden girl – Blanche Devereaux.

(Sidenote: Don’t worry, I’m about to start making sense to people who have never seen The Golden Girls. I will also soon get to the point. I realize I’m sounding a bit like a Rose Nylund St. Olaf story here – okay, that was just for G.G. fans.)

Anyway, here’s a bit on Blanche if you’re a Golden Girls novice: she’s a confident, worldly, sophisticated, lively, beauty of a southern belle who at one point or another has probably used all of those words to describe herself. She’s also, well, very popular. We’ll just say it that way.

That’s the gist of Blanche – and I love the gist of Blanche. I love almost everything about Blanche, especially her seriously impressive pajama collection that appears to cost more than my entire wardrobe.

One thing I don’t love about her though is that she plays into one of my least favorite stereotypes of women.

If someone asks Blanche how she is doing and she says “fine” she never just means fine. She means that there is something terribly wrong and it is up to the people talking to her to ply her with questions until she finally reveals why she is absolutely not fine.

In one episode Blanche goes so far as to chastise her roommates because they have the absolute nerve to just believe that she is fine when she says she is. Turns out, she isn’t and she expects her roommates to magically know this and come to her aid with friendly advice and presumably chocolate cheesecake.

I hate this type of behavior. It’s not attractive or mysterious to speak this ambiguously just so everyone else has to go through the trouble of decoding your speech. It’s not cute. It’s not coy. It’s just annoying.

And most infuriatingly, it just perpetuates the stereotype that women can’t be trusted to say the words they mean or mean the words they say.

It just plays into the old joke that when a woman says she’s fine she never actually means she is fine, she means something else entirely and it is up to her significant other to figure out what she actually means.

(The punchline of  these type of jokes is always the same: hey guys, isn’t it funny that women never say what they’re actually thinking? )

I hate these jokes because they just make women sound like a bunch of tricky, manipulative, duplicitous minxes who are trying to slowly drive their significant others insane with their exhausting, passive-aggressive mind games.

I, for one, am simply too lazy to make my comments into complicated riddles I then expect others to decode. Most of the time I just say what I mean, because, frankly, my life’s just easier that way.

And I think the vast majority of women I know (hell, just the vast majority of people I know) do the exact same thing.

It’s a heck of a lot easier to get want you want if you just say it.

And as smart as Blanche is, you’d think she’d know that. (Insert a Sophia joke about Blanche and the word “easier” here.)

Anyway, the point is, when a woman says she’s “fine” she probably just means she’s fine.

Because that’s just how words work.

 

Why Did She Even Have to Say It?

“Anger is a lot like a piece of shredded wheat caught under your dentures.  If you leave it there, you get a blister and you have to eat Jello all week. If you get rid of it, the sore heals and you feel better.”

That’s one of the best lines from one of the best characters from one of the best shows of all time. The wise, wonderful, witty Sophia Petrillo says it to her daughter, Dorothy, when Dorothy is having a hard time letting go of a long-standing, though, some would argue, justifiable grudge.

Though Sophia admits that the advice may not be her most poetic — it does make a good point. If something is bugging you — really grating on you — you won’t feel better until you get it out. If you don’t, it will just keep on bugging you, nagging at you, getting more and more irritating with time.

So with that being said, I’m about to remove a metaphorical piece of shredded wheat from my metaphorical dentures.

It all started a few weeks ago after I watched Emma Watson (you know, Harry Potter’s Hermione) deliver an amazing speech to the United Nations as their U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking — why is this 20-something actress a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador? Don’t worry, she addresses that in her speech.

Really, if you haven’t watched that speech yet, you should just go ahead and watch it now because I’m going to keep referring to it and this whole damn thing won’t make much sense if you haven’t seen it.

Yes, its long. It’s more than ten whole minutes. But it’s worth it, I promise. Also, you and I both know you’ve spent more time on the internet today tinkering with your Fantasy Football lineup or watching videos of cats chasing laser pointers. So, please just do it. Trust me.

Okay, assuming you’re now properly edified on the on the subject matter, I’ll continue. (Yes, I understand I sounded like a snotty schoolteacher there, but please just go with me on this.)

It was a phenomenal speech, right? Just perfect. If Hermione Granger was, in fact, a real person and not a fragment of J.K. Rowling’s imagination, she’d be pretty darn impressed. And if you’re not well-versed in the Harry Potter universe like I am, let me assure you, that’s a tall order. That girl, okay, fictional character, isn’t easily won over. If you want to convince Hermione Granger of something, you’re going to have to do it right.

Thankfully, Emma Watson did.

Sidenote: If you’re having doubts about the confidence, compassion or general competence of our generation (or the generation below mine, I’m getting old) Emma Watson is the proof you need to see that not all millennials are self- and selfie-absorbed dumb-dumbs. Some are actually pretty upstanding, outstanding people who might be worth listening to.

Watson is certainly one of them.

In her speech she does some pretty important things very well. For one, she admits that the word “feminism” has a bit of an image problem. Some people incorrectly believe that feminism means man-hating, which is simply not the case. Feminism isn’t about pushing men down — it’s about promoting an environment where people, regardless of their gender, are not restricted by out-dated, ill-informed, societal gender norms, and are instead free to be the truest version of themselves.

That’s a pretty worthwhile goal for all of us — men included.

It’s just — and here’s that shredded wheat part I mentioned earlier — I’m angry we have to say that at all. Why don’t we already know that?

Why did Emma Watson have to give a speech (albeit, a damn good one) about things we, frankly, should already know?

It’s 2014 and we’re still having to give speeches which essentially say: “Hey, guys, ladies are just as good.”

Of course, we’re just as good. Duh. Obviously.

As cliche as this seems (and yes, I know it’s cliche) people are just people.  No person is a better person, a more intelligent person, a more compassionate person, simply because of their gender.

We’re all more than that.

Defining or judging people’s abilities or characters based on how you perceive their gender is incredibly limiting and just doesn’t make much sense.

It never made sense and by now, it’s about damn time we figured that out.

Okay, I just needed to get that out there.

And now that I have, I can say with certainty that Sophia Petrillo was right. (She’s always right.)

I do feel better.

That’s What She Said (Clearly and Without Manipulative Intent)

You know what I mean when I say “I’m fine.”? I mean “I’m fine.” You know what I mean when I say “It’s nothing.”? I mean, “It’s nothing.” And when I say “Sure, go ahead.” I mean (you guessed it) “Sure, go ahead.”

I’m not speaking some secret, manipulative lady language that needs to be analyzed and decoded for signs of hidden messages and agendas.

The words I’m saying are the words I mean (for the most part, with only a smidgen of censoring for the polite removal of expletives.) But in general, I just say what I mean. It’s not that complicated. It’s not that revolutionary, and it’s not that unpopular.

Contrary to what I have heard people say, women are actually capable of direct, coherent, effective communication. Gee golly, gee whiz, who knew, huh?

Okay, that last part was not direct and effective. It was sarcastic and sort of snarky but at least I had the common courtesy to admit it was sarcastic and sort of snarky.

That was pretty helpful of me to admit actually, because some people might truly believe my statements required that sort of explanation.

Translating women’s speech has become so popular there are even Facebook memes with helpful guides on the subject.

Hint: In these guides, “I’m fine,” doesn’t mean “I’m fine.” It means just the opposite.

Get it? Because that’s how women talk. We’re duplicitous, irrational, manipulative, malicious and incapable of speech not dripping with passive aggression. (Again, that was sarcasm.)

Except some of us aren’t. A whole lot of us aren’t actually. I’d wager a whole heck of a lot of us aren’t. A bunch of us have the audacity to just say what we mean to say when we mean to say it.

And that doesn’t make us mean, controlling or abrasive. And it most certainly doesn’t make us bitches. I mean, yeah some of us can be real jerks some times but everyone can be –menfolk included.

We’re all equally capable of being shitty and mean. But, the beautiful part is, we’re also all equally capable of being the opposite.

Regardless of gender, we’re all capable of being competent, direct, effective communicators. So let me be clear here: let’s stop pretending otherwise.

And yes, I know the Facebook memes are jokes. I get that. My feeble little lady brain also understands the concept of humor. (See, I used sarcasm right there. I leaned on it pretty hard actually.)

It’s just, the Facebook memes (much like my above sarcasm) are just not that funny.

It’s all well and good to make yourself the butt of a joke. Self-deprecation is the best.

But there is one caveat: when you decide to make an entire group of people the butt of your joke, just make sure people know you’re joking.

To be clear (in case you still deem this sort of translation necessary) I was serious there. That was not a joke. It is not fine. It is not nothing. Do not go ahead.

In fact, just cut it out.

I mean it.

I’ll Tell You Where You Can Stick That Carat

What I’m about to say is so ridiculous you’re going to assume I’m making it up. I’m not. I promise. And it’s not because of that old adage, “You just can’t make this stuff up.” I can make this stuff up. I just wouldn’t want to.

Because it’s stupid.

At this point you probably shouldn’t be surprised to learn that I’m talking about a jewelry advertisement. I have long-hated jewelry advertisements because almost all of them portray women as materialistic harpies who demean and emasculate their male significant others until they are assuaged into silence and submission by their significant other’s purchase of something shiny.

The message of most of these advertisements is pretty clear: “Give them a diamond and they’ll shut up already. Sheesh.”

So yeah, you get the drift, I don’t usually like these things. But the other day I saw one that really takes the cake in terms of stupid. It’s a real winner. I mean, I like bad puns as much as the next person (okay, I probably like them way more than the next person because I’m lame like that) but even I think this is just too much.

Even I, who in my non-work hours, speaks almost entirely in obscenities, hyperbole and bad puns, have to draw the line somewhere. Even I occasionally think, eh, maybe you should have kept that card in the deck, bud.

I’m usually not easily offended. Seriously I’m not. If you’ve met my family you’d understand why. (For the record, and  I’m only saying with love, but,  if you’re easily offended, you probably shouldn’t hang around my family much. You’re going to hate it. Especially the stuff I say. I can be a real jerk sometimes.)

So owning my jerkdom as I do, I usually don’t think I can be too sanctimonious or judgmental about how other people choose to express themselves.

But sometimes I do. And lucky for you, this is one of those times.

Because it’s 2014, and at some point, I think it’d be just peachy keen if advertisers would pull back on the sexism just a wee, little, tiny bit. Just, you know, to be polite. It’d be cool if, in this day and age, advertisers wouldn’t stick up a giant frickin’ billboard with a picture of a diamond ring on it that says: “Dangle a carat in front of her.”

Seriously? During the creative process, no one said, “So, hey guys, maybe we shouldn’t  compare women to donkeys who are being forced into labor for the promise of a carrot that’s tied to the end of a long stick and dangled in front of them but never actually given to them? Maybe that’s not umm…cool?”

For God’s sake, why didn’t someone object to this ad on its sheer stupidity? Why didn’t fight against it simply because it’s a pretty lame joke?

When this idea was first presented, why didn’t someone give a half-hearted, insincere, awkward chuckle and say, “Yeah, great joke, Bubba. Now…moving on…Does any one have any real ideas?”

(In this hypothetical situation I’m assuming this idea was presented by a man named Bubba who is an idiot. I apologize to any non-idiotic Bubbas I may have offended with this hypothetical example.)

I’m sorry, hypothetical-situation-Bubba, but your idea just stinks. Try a little harder next time.

If you find you need an extra push to step up your game, I can help you out with that. I volunteer to dangle a carrot off a long stick in front of your computer screen until you write something we both deem satisfactory.

I’ve heard that’s a great way to get jackasses to work harder.

Should do wonders for ya.

 

 

 

Red Roses are Stupid: And Other Important Things to Remember on Valentine’s Day

I am not a romantic. I do not like long-stem, red roses; heart-shaped jewelry; industrial-sized boxes of cheap, assorted chocolates or poetry-filled greeting cards.

I do not like these things. I have never liked these things. I will not start liking these things because it’s February and I’m a woman and in February, women should apparently want nothing more than these gifts because they (and nothing else) will validate our worth and prove that we are loved.

Okay, that last bit sounded like the beginning of a long, feminist tirade against Valentine’s Day, a holiday with sexist undertones that seems to market every woman as a stupid, selfish, materialistic ninny who will only be happy when showered in cheesy, heart-shaped gifts. Though that’s kind of true, that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

My point is, I want better presents.

I mean, if you’re going to go to all the trouble of buying presents for a pointless holiday, you should at least do it well. To that end, I’ve included some helpful Valentine’s Day gift-giving tips.

1.    Roses (Alone) Aren’t a Gift on Valentine’s Day

Flowers are lovely. They smell nice. They perk up a drab and dreary cubicle space like nobody’s business. They are a very thoughtful, sweet gift when you send them out of the blue, after someone’s been sick or when someone’s had a generally cruddy time.

Given any day other than Valentine’s Day, a gift of flowers is a very considerate gesture that says you were thinking about someone you love and wanted to brighten their day.

Given on Valentine’s Day, flowers say you completely forgot it was Valentine’s Day until 10:15 a.m. when you finally figured out why a weirdly large number of your female coworkers were accepting flower deliveries on what was seemingly just a random work day in February.

At that point you called a florist in a panic and he sold you one of his last bouquets of red roses for a ridiculously-overpriced sum. For this reason, a dozen red roses on Valentine’s Day has always just seemed like a major cop-out to me.

If it’s the thought that counts behind gifts, here is roughly the thought process that leads to the purchase of a dozen red roses by most males on February 14, “Oh, it’s Valentine’s Day. She’s a girl. She must like this because all of those commercials keep telling me she does. I’ll buy them so she doesn’t get mad at me for not buying them.”

Lame, guys. Lame.

2. No One Likes Heart-Shaped Jewelry

As a general rule, women over the age of seven do not appreciate jewelry that is heart-shaped. In case you were wondering, this is why women never wear jewelry that is heart-shaped. Mystery solved. You’re welcome.

If you’re going to cave and buy your significant other jewelry on Valentine’s Day because all of the TV commercials tell you to, try to buy her something she may actually like.

3. Bigger Doesn’t Always Mean Better

A $25 box of chocolates that is roughly the size of a Monopoly board is probably not the best choice. No one wants a box of chocolates that has 25 nougat-filled pieces of chalky-tasting, cheap chocolate. It’s a classic case of quality over quantity.

4. Cards Are Meant to Be Read

Having worked the express checkout lane at Wal-Mart on February 14th, I’m hip to the way most men purchase Valentine’s Day cards. Wal-Mart makes it very easy for them.

In front of my express checkout lane there was a mini greeting card station full of Valentine’s Day cards. Men would simply grab the first one they saw. If it had roses on it, great. If there was some nonsensical poetry inside, great.

If these procrastinating men were feeling a little more sentimental, they would shove the card in my face and say something along the lines of, “Chicks like this, right?” To this I would respond, “Yes,” because, well, I did not care. But nine times out of ten the men had neglected to even read the words on the front of the card which usually said something like this: “To my wonderful grandmother on Valentine’s Day…” I’m sure their girlfriends loved that.

Bottom line, I’m not entirely sure if this stupid, made-up holiday has a point. But in the off-chance the point of this holiday is giving presents, at least mean the sentiment behind the presents and for God’s sake, do not buy the cheapest chocolate.

Prince Charming Sucks

Prince Charming is only charming because the story always ends before he has the opportunity to forget to do the dishes.

If Prince Charming was a real person he probably wouldn’t even know how to do the dishes.

Prince Charming would be an absolute dud in the real world because he would completely lack any useful skills. In fairy tales, these allegedly charming princes are always gallivanting around the countryside on white stallions wooing sweet, young maidens. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not prone to fantasizing about sleazy playas rocking outdated forms of transportation.

But maybe that’s just me. I’m not a Prince Charming kinda gal and I never have been.

Even back in the day I could see through the Prince Charming hype.

Growing up I was never a huge fan of the Disney classics, namely because all of the characters I was supposed to relate to were incredibly lame .

Let’s take Ariel for instance, she’s a petite mer-person. That’s pretty cool I guess. I mean part human, part fish. What’s not to love? Also she’s a princess with all the neat perks that come with that, like that primo golden castle she has under the sea and all of those crustacean and fishy buddies.

She’s got the life.

No one in their right mind would walk away from this sweet set-up. Which is exactly the problem with Ariel: she’s an idiot or she’s insane. Or both.

Just because some prince guy looks good on a boat, Ariel rushes over to her arch-enemy to trade her vocal cords for a pair of legs. Maybe it’s just me, but this seems a tid bit desperate. Clearly, Ariel is not practitioner of the “hard-to-get” approach.

Sure, they end up “falling in love” and all that jazz but not before Ariel gets in a nasty fight with the scary Ursula and Ariel’s lobster bud almost becomes dinner.

I mean the prince guy was cute in animated terms I guess, but certainly not worth losing Sebastian over.

Then there’s Snow White who marries the guy who kissed her when, for all intents and purposes, she appeared to be dead. Necrophilia, anyone? Not okay.

Now if Snow White was smart, which she obviously wasn’t, she would have just stayed with the seven dwarves who had really exceptional work ethics and the good spirit to whistle while the slaved away in the mines.

Then there is Cinderella, who is the world’s most celebrated human doormat. Yes, I get it, in olden times women couldn’t just run away from their horrid families and pursue a new career as a dental hygienist or something.

So yes, I understand that Cinderella didn’t have the way or the means to hightail it away from her seriously deranged stepmother and stepsisters. But even if she couldn’t have made a break for it, she could have stuck up for herself at least a little bit.

Turning the other cheek is all well and good, but I really think I would have liked Cinderella a lot more if she would have at least been feisty enough to spit in her stepmother’s soup.

Since I think Cinderella’s the ultimate pathetic wimp I’m not too impressed by some prince who falls in love with her and drags her shoe around the kingdom like a disturbed foot fetishist.

So, women of the world, I wish you luck in your search for Prince Charming. I ’m sure if you keep advertising for him in your Facebook statuses he’ll be bound to turn up.

And if he does, he’s all yours. I want you to keep him.

I don’t want him: he can’t even do the dishes.